Shrapnel-The-Virus-Conspires-coverThrash Metal. What does that mean to you? For me it means tight jeans, Converse basketball boots, patched denim over leather (Bonded By Blood back patch was mine), mullets, Lowenbrau and getting smashed to bits at Kings, The Greyhound or down the Royal Standard. I was there, loving and revelling in it when it began, and I was there, crying into my beer in the early 90’s when grunge did it’s best to kill thrash off and most of the big acts released shite albums.

For 30 or so years thrash metal has been my genre of choice and come whatever fads and trends, I and many other loyal (& probably middle-aged and balding) fans have stood firm, clutching such masterpieces as ‘Ride The Lightning’, ‘Taking Over’ and ‘The Legacy’ to our chests. You’ll note those albums are by American bands. UK thrash acts, with the exception of the mighty Sabbat and Virus, never really did it for me – too much emphasis on comedy value (really?  covering ‘Ghostbusters’???).

Of course since 2005ish thrash has seen a resurgence in popularity and seen some wicked young bands spring up all over the over the place. Evile & Gama Bomb have lead the charge here in the UK and now, Norwich’s Shrapnel have made a bid for the thrash premiership with their last debut long player ‘The Virus Conspires’ – and be under no misapprehensions – this is not the sound of young pretenders – this is pure, no bullshit thrash magnificence!

From opener ‘Kingdom Come’ to album closer ‘All That We Know’ the band attack with seemingly never ending energy and you’re gifted heaps of furious, intricate riffage & blazing solos from Nathan Sadd & Chris Martin, Simon Jackson’s relentless drumming, DD Verni esque bass work from Shaun Mcelhinney  and classic thrash vocal delivery from frontman Jae Hadley (reminds me a bit of Randy Rampage if you remember him!)

Couple this with great song-writing and a top notch production job courtesy of the ever reliable architect of sonic mayhem – Russ Russell (The Rotted / Napalm Death / Dripback / Evile etc) and you’ve got THE thrash album to beat this year….. and to be honest I can’t see that happening. Speaking of the production – the band apparently committed to a whole month in Russ’s Parlour Studio and the effort and time spent has paid off in spades lads. Well done!!

The band sound hungry and utterly convincing – shredding through tracks like ‘Braindead’ and ‘Red Terror’ which exude nuclear intensity, the title track is classic thrash and which features a voiceover by Metal Hammer scribe and Oaf,  Dom Lawson.

Wheel re-invented? No, obviously not. Best British thrash metal album yet made? Possibly.

(8.5/10 Mark Eve)